Meet The Deep Lying Forward

When playing FM I like to think outside of the box and I follow no rules or patterns about anything tactical related. So when I am searching for a player I tend to think differently and focus on attributes rather than the position someone plays. This can throw up some very interesting results, it’s not unusual for me to take a striker and make him a fullback or take an attacking midfielder and make him a ball playing defender. It’s part of something I’ve done for as long as I can remember when I play long term games and squad build. With this in mind, I thought I’d share my thinking and show you more about what I’m talking about. I know some people already do similar things but I’ve spoken to a lot of people who would never consider this too, so hopefully this can show you just how beneficial it can be.

In the tactic I use, I plan to make the most of the deep lying forward role. Not only that but I’m ignoring the games recommended attributes needed for the role and going for what I want and need from the role instead. The deep lying forward role is everything the target man role should be imo. The roles aren’t actually that different apart from the deep lying forward being more creative, but he doesn’t need to be. When I want to use a target man I always use this role instead because it offers so much more but is still as useful and will do everything you’d expect the TM role to do. So what I do is breakdown the things I need the role to do and base the attributes the player needs off that. In this case that would be;

Pace/acceleration – The player will be deep and bursting forward.

Strength – As I play in England I suspect most teams will have a defensive midfielder. So I need someone who can handle himself if the game becomes physical which I expect it will.

Work Rate – He’ll need to work his socks off.

Team Work – I need him to understand that he isn’t an individual and that he does have team mates and should work with them as much as he can.

Composure – I need someone who won’t get flustered when on the ball and rush his decision making as he’ll be in important areas of the pitch. So it’s vital he can hold his nerve when being bullied physically or when he gets close to goal etc.

Vision – The player needs to be able to see all available options currently on for him.

That’s all the things that I need, these are what I call vitals and the player I look to buy should have the majority of the attributes listed above over all the others he has. If he doesn’t then he won’t work like I need him to.

Now you’ve got to remember I’m down in League One and don’t have much money available. If I sell all the clauses currently active then I have around £1 million to spend. So immediately this limits who I can afford to bring in and who actually wants to join me.

With all this in mind I set up some filters on the player search to see if I could find the player I was looking for; I decided to search for all the attributes I mentioned and set the filter to be 13 minimum for each attribute.

I found these 35 players;


None of these are ever going to join me, they’ll beg me to join in a few seasons when I’m winning titles but not yet! So now I had a dilemma and had to change my approach. I decided I’d untick one attribute at a time and see if that brought up any interesting players. First up I did the search without work rate and it threw up no results.Second I searched for for all the attributes excluding teamwork and this time, to my surprise, I had a hit;

Attributes 2

I immediately looked at his profile and this is what I saw;

Player attributes

I was pleasantly surprised as he ticks all the boxes I want but his teamwork is lower than I’d have liked. Was this an issue? Not really as his other attributes are far greater than I was expecting and due to the level I play at I’m not going to find the perfect player unless I’m lucky. What you have to do at these levels is make sacrifices and get players who have some or most of the requirements you need. So in a nutshell he was more than perfect for what I was looking for. There is a major drawback though;


He’s a leftback!! Is this a major issue? Not at all and isn’t something that would ever stop me buying a player. You can always retrain them. It’s not unusual for me to retrain people to positions you’d not normally expect them to play. Ganso on FM14 I turned into a ball playing defender/Libero and I’m always retraining newgens who are strikers to be full backs, deep-lying playmakers or something similar. So this isn’t off-putting at all.

Now I’ve identified the player I want I need to bring him to the club. Palace want 750k for him which I don’t have at this minute but will in a few days when I shift people on. So what I did was place a bid for him but to get him on loan. Getting him on loan is better than missing out on him completely for now.

I actually posted a picture of this player on Twitter a few weeks ago and said I saw him as my ideal striker and a lot of people mocked me and picked up on things like his off the ball, decisions, technique, passing, agility etc was all low. It’s true they are, but it doesn’t always matter if the player can do the job you require of him. I felt he can do that easily even though he isn’t the world’s greatest player. Plus if he was any better he’d not be willing to come to me would he? He’s still 19 so should have room to improve and tide me over until I can afford and attract better quality. I think people miss this point at times and always look at players being the complete player already and dismiss other players due to what his attributes are like even if he excels at a particular area like the above player. In fact I actually only ended up getting him in the end because the negativity I received spurred me on and made me want to show people just how good he could be doing the things I need. Hopefully I can show that a little further in the article 🙂

Within a few days of getting him on-loan I was able to shift some deadwood and raise the funds I needed (it was actually more a wage problem than the transfer fee) and bought him straight away while he was already on loan with me. Once I’d purchased him that’s when the real work starts by training him in a new position and developing his attributes to further the demand I have for the role he’ll be playing at the club.

This is how I decided I’d train him;

ind training

The focus is set to that of a target man as that’s how I want him to act, so this schedule will further work on the attributes needed overall. The attributes this role works on are;

training attributes

Some of those attributes are already high so long term I may find myself changing it again or even in a few months time once he’s accomplished as a striker. I could then focus on individual attributes on a three month rotation for a while. But for the immediate future this is what I’ve chosen  especially as most of the training time I allocated to positional training instead to try and make him a striker as quickly as possible.

Role Analysis!

Some of you will probably be wondering why I want to use a deep lying forward who is different to the normal and what benefits it can bring. So let me show you a few examples of what I expect from the individual and what he actually delivers during a match.


This screenshot shows why I value a more physical type of player rather than a creative minded one for the deep lying role. Ideally the perfect player would be creative and strong.


He is occupying two defenders here in this screenshot so his strength and physicality will help here. It means he should be able to hold his own and not be bullied too badly off the ball compared to someone more dainty!

This is him during the same move a few seconds later;


He’s about to dart to where the arrow is pointing to in the hope he gets on the end of the cross that’s just happened. This is where his acceleration comes into play and gives him the initial burst of speed he needs, pace would be used if the run was long distance but over short distances it’s acceleration that counts the most.

And this is him about to tap it into the net;


He has to deal with the challenge of the keeper and the two defenders covering here. So again he needs to be physical to be able to win the ball and get to it in these situations. This was also a reason why I needed someone who was composed and not panic or get flustered in these situations, meaning he wouldn’t rush his decision making or be put off by the keeper and defenders.


Not bad for a rubbish left back eh?!! 🙂

The above sort of move happens a lot. I was going to add a lot more analysis but then I had the idea of doing this for every single player in my squad to give a real sense of what players do during the game, how they all link up and what jobs they really do. So these will be part of a more detailed analysis series at a later date and will feature a lot more about this player too.

42 thoughts on “Meet The Deep Lying Forward”

  1. This makes me see things in a whole new way. I am managing in the lowest English league and if not there, there where would I have the guts to do something like this. No more selecting position for me when looking for a player, at least at this level. Thanks for this, I never really retrained any player and always took his position for granted

  2. Fantastic read! Since your Sheffield United project when you posted your view on the vital/other attributes I try to follow this approach. With limited success due to not really understanding what I really need from the player 🙂 Thank you Cleon!

  3. Although I’m also a big fan of scouting through attributes rather than natural positions, I have to admit that I probably still wouldn’t have signed that guy!! 🙂

    His anticipation, passing, technique etc would all worry me so it’s great to see how much his other attributes, which are clearly excellent for that level, more than compensate.

    1. I wasn’t going too at first but when I saw the comments on Twitter I dug my heels in and wanted to prove a point lol. I think his style of play and what he does for the side actually ties in with the article you did for CCC about can attributes be too high.

  4. It would be nice to discuss each attribute in FM the way you did above. That way we can develop our players the way you do. Looks very promising!

    1. I’ve done it in the past but it was around 4 years ago now maybe longer. The thread still exists on the SI forums but the images I used for the examples don’t sadly. Not sure if I’ll be revisiting it though, it’s a lot of work when trying to discuss the attributes and what they do. Lots of visuals which is the longest bit about writing for me, is taking all the pictures/videos needed.

      Who knows though, maybe 🙂

  5. I’ve tried this myself once or twice (without success), so I have a few quick questions:

    1. How long did he take to retrain to the new position?
    2. How were his first few performances?
    3. I heard a rumour that training a player to a new position ‘uses up’ some PA – is this true, if so how much, and does that bother you?

    1. 1 – Each player is different and is down to a players versatility attribute which is hidden. By the end of the season he is accomplished though.

      2. Fine why wouldn’t they be?

      3 – Nope this is false, its not true at all.

      1. Re: #2, I’ve found (though it could be coincidence) that playing players wildly out of position means they struggle. I wondered if his first few games were poor while he adjusted to playing up front.

        1. When you play someone out of position all that really happens is his decision making is lowered slightly. It shouldn’t be a massive issue though.

  6. I have a question regarding this role. What’s the difference between attack and support duty if you play him as a lone striker?
    Will DLF on attack still come deep enough to be involved in build-up, while not too deep to be ale toget to the end of the crosses should they come?
    I’ve found that a lone DLF on support drops too deep and is not really a threat to opposition defence.

  7. Another one of your articles that has got me thinking again… good stuff cleon

    Ive thought for years that retraining position had an effect on a player reaching their max PA, thanks for clearing that up too.

  8. Love it ! Brings into perspective a whole new range of players I can use. I don’t have the game for now but has excited me to get is as soon as possible to experiment this out !

  9. This just shows how ridiculously easy this game is. I’ve stopped getting it when I was winning the fa cup and league cup in my first year not conceding in any of the rounds against arsenal, liverpool, Tottenham, man city and Chelsea when I was Barnet manager. What a joke.

    1. What’s your steam name? I’ll check you out on the leaderboards as the only way you’d not be on the leaderboard was if you’d used an editor.

  10. Im definitely going to try and utilise this idea, thanks for sharing. I do have one question though if you dont mind.
    Is this a feature that is more beneficial the small frys or can this be used to great effect with the big teams?

  11. Sorry, here’s a long one…

    I enjoyed the read. I have been making use of retraining players a lot my self through the years depending on their attributes and positions I needed players and couldn’t afford them. I did experience though that at lower levels I was retraining players to fill needs (usually train players to be able to play at least two roles). But at higher levels though it was usually retraining a wonderkid so that he can play multiple role or into a new role if his physical attributes didn’t really fit my play.

    Once scouted a english potential 5 star striker (FM 2014) while coaching arsenal, ended up over paying, but needed a english striker in squad etc. so payed 51 million US-dollars when he was only 18 (I had budget of more than 800 million $…have been with them for about 18 seasons at the time. He scored 6 goals in 10 games that first season..then he started struggling. He wasn’t very tall (1.76m) so he wasn’t a success in my formation alone on top. So I started retraining him as a midfielder and later attacking midfielder as well and he started scoring more goals from midfield that any other box to box midfielder I ever had in last season. He is now 25 and is valued back at 61 million $ where 2 seasons ago he was rated at 10 Million $. Played 30(12) games last season in all comp. scored 9 goals and 16 assists. Not great but at least now I can get some good performances from him and hopefully get back what I invested when I sell him at +/-30 years of age…

    Often I find in english players looking at attributes and performances tells you if player has potential, just looking at attributes u may overlook some great players… Had a player that came through youth ranks, thought about selling him when he was 20/21, but he had a decent season out on loan previous year so gave him a chance and kept him till he was 34. Here is his league stats for Arsenal at end of career: Apps 338, Goals 280, Asts 83 and that doesn’t include other Comp!!! He scored a Average of 40 goals per season over 9 seasons in all comp. Highest was 56 goals in one campaign.

    That is why we love this game! Finding gems and making them count! As soon as I can afford to do so and when I have the time to get into it I’m getting FM 2015!

    Steam danieljdwt aka Kameleo.

    1. I’ve got some clubs wanting to sign him now on my save in the second season. Just turned down £2 million for him off Brighton and Wolves!

  12. Hi Cleon, just a short note to thank you for all these brilliant articles that keep pushing my game into slightly new directions. My FM13 save is now into 2123 and I’ve been fortunate to have two 5-star talents perform consistently and both are now approaching their 35th birthday. Of course, as I’m managing Southampton (or Hampston as my 3-yr old nephew calls them) the save has turned into a youth development project which is why I’ve never really bonded with FM14 or FM15 (I always want to see how the next intake does) and my 35 yr-olds still feature in 20-odd games a season while tutoring intakes. However, time is beginning to catch up with them and the physical attributes are dropping like stones while their technical and mentals still remain at a high level and I was considering hitting that fatal ‘offer to clubs’ button until I read this article and lightbulbs began to flicker into life above my head…Raul Loghin my once dynamic lone DW(s) is now playing as an orange-dot Anchor Man (Marking20, Ant20, Con20, Det17, Inf20, Pos19, 27apps at 7.26) and Lorenzo Legati my Joao Pedro-esq AM(a) is now a yellow-dot DLP(s) with 32apps at 7.28. A really good lesson to learn, not only to consider changing roles for players at the beginning of their careers but also as a way of holding onto those talents you really grow to love! Many thanks.

    1. I really wish I could play half the amount of seasons you do, you have a lot more patience that me 🙂

      Retraining a player is a brilliant way to prolong their careers if you can fit them into other positions. I have a few friends who retrain their strikers to be midfielders when they start losing a bit of their pace and so on. It works really well for them 🙂

  13. I knew this would be good but I did not expect to be this special. Great work!

    I’m really tempted to return to FM again. 🙂

  14. I gave it another read as I was struggling with a team an think it’s great!

    Question 1: I manage a semi pro club. Do I double the three month rotation to a six month one as they only train 2 days a week?

    Question 2: Only 6 attributes are vital?

    Question 3: When the other roles will be analyzed?

    Thanks man!

    1. 1 – Probably yeah or at least add a little bit longer than the initial 3 months to compensate.

      2- For what I wanted to achieve yes but for others it might be different. It’s not a set guide. it’s just what I needed the player to do for that role.

      3 – When I get some free time possibly.

  15. Consider this a necro bump I guess. Having seen the human toilet brush that is Fellaini come to prominence lately, then dominate my beloved Liverpool recently, I tried to do a Google search to see if anyone had devised the new position of “deep lying target man”. (Ie a target man supplying through balls, winning all his headers, holding the ball up in more of an amc slot, where he has to outjump midget defensive mids rather than 7 foot central defenders).

    Anyway, your thread was top of the list and very close (minus the pace) to what I had in mind.

    Good job on the outlook on attributes rather than positions – it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Carragher was a striker as a kid, Bale a left back

  16. Re-reading some of your old articles – I’d forgotten how really helpful they are. DLF is a forward that I love to incorporate into my teams too. One player I use is Harry Kane – question I have – with him playing at high to his full potential, would you drop the Target Man training and just focus on individual attributes?

    I have been training him on Poacher, as thought he was pretty creative already and wanted to improve his Off the Ball and Finishing.

    1. For me those two trainings are a bit of a waste, he’s the definition of a complete striker. I’d have been working on that role training or working on the attributes I wanted him to have via individual focus. Especially if he has little room for improvement left.

  17. Really enjoyed reading this, and I’m applying some of the information in fm16. Is there any other guides you have regarding similar things you have put into this?

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